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Climate scientists urge media to effectively communicate seasonal forecasts

Climate scientists are urging the media to ensure objectivity in reporting on weather, climate, and climate change. Kenya Meteorological Department Director Dr. David Gikungu says the role of the media in shaping the national agenda on various topics is key.

“There is a need to report objectively in order to enable the public to make the necessary decisions when using weather information,” said Dr. Gikungu when he opened the 7th  National Climate Outlook Forum (NCOF7) Co-Production workshop.

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Dr. Gikungu urged the media to endeavor to understand the weather forecasts “to be able to effectively communicate to the public,” he said and added that the media should always ensure that they follow up on seasonal forecasts by getting the latest information from the Kenya Meteorological Department, so as to keep the public updated.

The Met Department Director in his remarks at the meeting themed, “Climate Services for Scenario Planning and Resilience Building,” noted that seasonal forecasts are important for decision-making, especially to smallholder farmers who are an integral part in ensuring that the country achieves food security goals.

Assistant Director Dr. Richard Mwita said that studies that have been undertaken over the past 40 years on rainfall trends in the country have shown that the amount of rainfall received during the long rain season of March to May has been reducing.

“Studies undertaken since 1980 have now shown that there is a trend in which the rainfall amounts during the long rains season of March through to May have been decreasing while that in in the short rains season of October, November to December (OND) has been increasing,” said Dr. Mwita and added, “the situation is further compounded by climate change.”

Dr. Mwita appealed for more funding for climate research, saying that such funds are necessary to help improve skills in weather forecasting as well as research on the trends driven by climate change, “Forecasts with higher accuracy are better used, but this requires investment in forecasting capability.”

The meeting is also discussing the current climate issues affecting the country and is expected to develop possible solutions to mitigate against the October, November to December 2023 climate scenario as well as develop advisories and early warning for early action products for each of the climate-sensitive socio-economic sectors of; Agriculture, Livestock, Food Security, Water, Energy, Transport, Disaster Risk Management, and Health.

Dr. Gikungu noted that the National Climate Outlook Forum is an important user interface platform in the provision of Climate Services, hence the need to “empower stakeholders and communities to understand the climate risks they face and assess their ability to manage these risks as the basis for identifying and undertaking concrete local climate actions and response.”

Judith Akolo
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